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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.—Ephesians 2:101
We want our dreams to become reality yesterday. But I’ve come to appreciate what I now call divine delays. God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go. So take a deep breath, enjoy the journey, and know that God will get you there when you’re ready to get there. Your current frustration will be cause for future celebration if you hang in there long enough. Don’t give up! God is building emotional endurance. And the key to emotional endurance is experiencing high levels of disappointment that break us down so God can build us back up with a holy confidence. Anytime I feel stretched emotionally, I remind myself that God is expanding my emotional capacity to be used by Him in greater ways.
You may not want to be where you are. Maybe you’re wrestling with depression or reeling from a mistake that seems unforgivable, or you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Dare I suggest that God is cultivating character? How do I know that? Because you are His masterpiece! He is chipping and chiseling. And like a half-finished piece of art, it may not look beautiful yet. But God always finishes what He starts, as long as we don’t quit on Him. So you may not like your present circumstances, but they may be the key to your character development.
We so quickly forget the central fact of our faith: without a crucifixion, there is no resurrection. Those days between death and resurrection are long and dark, but that’s often when a miracle is about to happen. You never know how or when or where a dream will be resurrected, but if it’s God-ordained, then God Himself will bring it back to life, somewhere, sometime.—Mark Batterson2
God has made promises in His Word, and when you pray, you should bring those promises with you to remind Him. When you remind God of His Word, it shows you have faith in it. And it’s a positive declaration of your faith and your knowledge of the Word which pleases Him. For “without faith it is impossible to please Him.”3
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these (His promises) ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”4 You have to quote the terms of the Contract (the Bible) to the Contract Maker (God), and hold Him to it. He is bound by His Word. So remind Him of it, cling to His promises, memorize and quote them, and never doubt for a moment that God is going to answer—and He will!
But always remember His conditions, His terms of the contract: faith and obedience! Faith and obedience come first, then God answers prayer. If we are obeying the Lord and are faithful and trusting and believing, then God’s got to bless and answer. Of course, sometimes God allows our faith to be tested.
It’s helpful to remember that God’s delays are not necessarily denials, and that sometimes we just have to have faith and wait for Him to answer, which usually results in “the trying of our faith, which worketh patience.”5 Learning patience seems to be one of God’s most frequent lessons, yet one of our own rarest virtues, as it really tests our faith and drives us to the Lord and His Word.
God answers prayer, but not always our way. It takes Him time to make a baby, a flower, a tree, a sunset—or even a blade of grass. You can’t rush God. You’ve got to wait till it’s God’s time, until you have learned the lesson God is trying to teach you, or the conditions are ready for the result that God wants to bring. Like the man in the Bible who was blind from birth, who had to be blind all his life, so that everybody would know it, and so that Jesus could come along someday and marvelously heal him, that God might be glorified. It may take years before you know why, but the time will come, and you’ll know God was right! Give God a chance. Give Him time. Wait on the Lord.
The greatest darkness is just before dawn; the greatest desperation is just before salvation. The greatest hopelessness attacks just before rescue. If you can hold on one more breath, one more step, one more hour, one more day, you can have glorious victory. Trust God and thank Him for the answer, even if you don’t see it immediately. You’ll be glad you trusted Him tomorrow.—David Brandt Berg
In order to build your faith, God will give you a dream. Then, He’ll urge you to make a decision. But then He’ll allow a delay, because in the delay He matures you and prepares you for what is to come.
The truth is, you’ll have difficulties while God delays. This isn’t because He doesn’t care about you or that He’s forgotten your circumstances; rather, it’s one of the ways He pushes you toward the deep end of faith.
As God delays, you’ll face two types of difficulties: circumstances and critics. This is a natural part of life. God designed it this way because He knows we grow stronger when facing adversity and opposition.
When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt into the desert toward the Promised Land, he had one problem after another. First there was no water. Then there was no food. Then there were a bunch of complainers. Then there were poisonous snakes. Moses was doing what God wanted him to do, but he still had problems.
David was anointed king, and then for the next several years he was hunted down by Saul. Joseph had a dream of becoming a ruler, yet he was sold into slavery and thrown into prison on a false charge, where he languished, forgotten. Imagine the difficulties Noah had building a floating zoo!
The Bible says that when Moses died, Joshua was appointed the new leader. Moses led the people across the desert, and then Joshua led them into the Promised Land. Did he get the easy part? The Bible says that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, there were giants in the land. Even in the Promised Land there were problems!
God does this because He is building our faith and character. When we finally come to a place where the difficulties become so bad, where we’ve reached our limit, where we’ve tried everything and exhausted all our options, it is then that God begins a mighty work through us: “This means tremendous joy to you, I know, even though you are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptations. This is no accident—it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold.”6—Rick Warren7
Published on Anchor February 2016. Read by Jerry Paladino.
2 Mark Batterson, Soulprint (Multnomah Books, 2011).
3 Hebrews 11:6.
4 2 Peter 1:4.
5 James 1:3.
6 1 Peter 1:6–7 PH.